Whether you need a golfing vehicle or just something to drive around the neighborhood, buying a golf cart can be a costly investment. In many cases they are a necessity for people with a certain lifestyle. Sometimes buying new is too cost prohibitive, but buying a used golf cart can mean significant savings as long as you know what to look for. Unfortunately, the golf cart industry is not regulated like the automotive industry so those who sell golf carts can promote their products in any fashion they deem fit. We hope this guide will help you avoid getting taken advantage of while feeling secure that you made the right purchase.
AGE The first thing you should check is the age of the golf cart. Some dealers use deceptive tactics to sell a used cart as "new" if it has been reconditioned, so it's important to be able to tell the year of manufacture. Also keep in mind that with much older carts you may have a hard time sourcing parts for them or finding someone who knows how to repair them.
How to Decode Serial Numbers
CLUB CAR Look for Club Car serial numbers on the passenger’s side of the dash, near the passenger’s right foot, or on the right side of the accelerator pedal’s top. All Club Car serial numbers start with two letters followed by ten numerals. The letters will indicate the cart’s model while the first two digits will indicate the year.
EZGO EZGO carts can have their serial numbers in several different locations. Check behind the driver’s left leg position on the cart’s body, at the base of the steering column, on the passenger’s side of the dash, at the top of the driver’s side of the shock tower, or underneath a black flap behind the seating area. Focus on the “date code”, which will indicate a letter followed by three or four numerals. The last two of these numerals will indicate the year.
YAMAHA Yamaha carts will have serial numbers underneath the chassis support braces. However, you’ll probably need an additional manufacturer’s reference to determine the year of a given vehicle. You can find a list here https://www.golfcartgarage.com/what-year-is-my-yamaha-golf-cart/.
BATTERIES Next you should determine the age of the batteries in the cart. The most expensive part of the golf cart is the batteries, and a new set can cost you up to $1,200. Battery life depends on the combination of battery year, usage, charging methods, regular maintenance, type of water used and long-term storage protocols, but you will want to get an idea of how soon you might need to replace the current ones and factor that into your decision.
Identifying Battery Code Date
Every battery will have a code either stamped into the lead on the negative post or on a sticker. Let's say your battery says "A6", this means it was made in January 2016. The code is easy enough to crack. Let's break it down for you:
The letter in the code represents the month of the year. For example:
A = January
B = February
C = March
D = April
. . . and so on for the remaining months.
The number in the code represents the year the battery was made.
6 = 2016
Now 6 could also mean 2006 but you will rarely come across a battery that old. You will know because it will certainly look very old, possibly swollen, and absolutely will not work.
TIRE WEAR Take a general assessment of the tires and their condition. Are they all the same brand and do they have similar and even wear? Uneven wear can be indicative of serious alignment problems, a bent frame or worn out steering components. Tires of mixed brands is an indication that the cart may have seen excessive use or be a rebuild of junk parts. This may not necessarily be the case, but keep it in mind as you continue looking over the candidate cart.
BRAKES Be sure the brakes are firm and stop the cart quickly without grinding or squealing. Brake shoe replacement is not usually a big deal unless service has been neglected to the point where the brake drum is gouged or otherwise damaged. Excessive rust and corrosion around the brake backing plates behind the rear wheels can be an indication of possible neglected maintenance.
INTEGRITY OF THE FRAME Steel frames are very susceptible to rust and corrosion, especially under the battery compartment. Carts that otherwise look great, could actually break in half due to battery acid seeping on, and eating the frame. Some manufacturers, like Club Car, are now using fully welded aluminum frames which do not rust, but are still susceptible to corrosion in the form of aluminum oxide (instead of iron oxide). Corroded aluminum has a heavy layer of white fuzzy powder, which is equivalent to rust. Stay away from any cart that you suspect has a frame problem. The cart could end up being totally useless to you later.
TEST DRIVE Never buy a cart without taking some time to drive it. A well maintained cart should roll along smoothly and quietly. A wobbling or lumpy motion when driving on a smooth solid surface indicates a problem. A bent wheel, or worse, a bent axle will cause the cart to bob up and down with a frequency proportional to the speed.
Turn off any radios and the like when you take your test ride. Listen for any odd noises that may be present. Grinding, excessive whining or clicking sounds can help you identify problems with the cart. The sounds a vehicle makes can tell you a lot if you take the time to listen.
Sloppy steering should be an immediate concern for you. Worn rack and pinion steering boxes are expensive to replace. If the rack and pinion is worn, you can also reasonably expect the steering rod ends and spindle bushings also need attention. None of these components are necessarily cheap to replace. The steering wheel, pulling to the left or right can be caused by uneven pressure in the tires or unmatched sizes. If the cart pulls, check the tire pressure first to see if the problem corrects. If it does not help, the spindle (on the same side that it pulls to) may have a bad wheel bearing causing dragging. You can jack up that corner of the cart and see if the wheel rotates freely.
HISTORY The history of the cart is the most important aspect and determines its lifespan and the ultimate cost to you in the long run. If the golf cart was not serviced properly or frequently, the parts have been exposed to greater wear and tear and inevitable (and very costly) damage is lurking. Try to get some insight as to how the golf cart was used. Was it on the course only or does it have a lot of street mileage? This can affect the overall condition and life of the cart.
WARRANTY Find out what kind of warranty is included with your golf cart purchase. A cart sold "as is" will not be warrantied and you will carry the burden of replacing or repairing parts out of pocket. Always ask specifically what is covered under warranty so there won't be any surprises later on, and make sure this is indicated on your invoice or bill of sale. A good warranty policy goes a long way in ensuring peace of mind.
Now that we've covered the main points, there are a few additional things to keep in mind when buying a used golf cart. NEVER buy a cart that is not running - you simply won't be able to properly test all functions and may be throwing your money away. ALWAYS make sure the cart comes with a charger. BE WARY of buying from a private owner - they can lie, you can get stuck with a big headache, and there is nothing you can do about it after the fact. Watch for signs of water damage - many golf carts have been flooded here in SWFL and that means nothing but bad news.
When you buy a second hand golf cart, you let someone else take the biggest knock on depreciation. Used golf carts are always cheaper and can save you money. But remember, the saying stands true. If it is too good to be true, it probably is. Even if you choose not to purchase from us at CartsMD, keep in mind that we offer a Golf Cart Inspection service that is only $75. Our technician will come to any location to inspect and test all functions of the cart to ensure that you're not buying a "lemon" and will advise you on any parts that will need to be repaired or replaced in the near future so you can better determine the true value of the cart.
Now that you are armed with this knowledge you are on your way to finding your dream cart at the best price possible. It just may be sitting in our showroom right now, so save yourself some time and aggravation and stop by 10650 Metro Pkwy #100, Fort Myers, FL 33966 for the best priced golf carts in SWFL.